Exploration News - 21 June 2011

21 June 2011
ESA chief hits at 'anarchy' over space station planning
Europe's space chief on Monday said the International Space Station faced lean times as a result of the US shuttle phase-out and said project planning for transport to the ISS had been "anarchy".
Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), said the scheduled phase-out of the US space shuttle meant "we are not in a very comfortable situation, and that's just a euphemism."
"The biggest lesson from the international space station programme is entirely the lack of a joint transportation policy," he said at a press conference on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show.
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21 June 2011
One-Hundred-Year Starship Study
The May 9 Launchspace email release introduced the latest idea from the "Department of Mad Scientists," a study of a 100-year starship mission. This is a joint NASA/DARPA project to generate ideas focused on the organization, business model and approaches appropriate for a self-sustaining investment vehicle in support of the 100-Year Starship Study.
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20 June 2011
NASA Reveals New Batch Of Space Program Artifacts
NASA is inviting eligible education institutions, museums and other organizations to examine and request space program artifacts online. The items represent significant human spaceflight technologies, processes and accomplishments from NASA's past and present space exploration programs.
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20 June 2011
Former Astronaut Develops Powerful Rocket
As scientists develop plans one day to send humans to Mars, they know the journey will involve many hazards for the astronauts, including possibly many months of exposure to dangerous radiation outside Earth's magnetic field. But if they decide to use a rocket developed by former U.S. astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz, the trip to the red planet might take only 39 days. The plasma rocket could be the answer to many space travel challenges.
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17 June 2011
CMU and Astrobotic Technology Complete Structural Assembly of Lunar Lander
Astrobotic Technology Inc. and Carnegie Mellon University researchers have completed structural assembly of the lunar landing craft that will deliver the Red Rover robot to the moon in 2014. The half-ton aluminum structure will now be shipped to Boeing Co. facilities in El Segundo, Calif., for shake testing to confirm its soundness and its compatibility with the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
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17 June 2011
Despite budget stress, US space ties strong: NASA
Relations between the United States and its partners in space remain strong, despite tighter budgets and concerns about costs and delays in building the space station, NASA chief Charles Bolden said on Friday. "We're talking about having vision and looking to the future, but planning that future in a very constrained fiscal environment," Bolden said in an interview on a tour to meet with European counterparts.
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17 June 2011
NASA’s Heavy-lift Launcher Would First Fly With Solid Rocket Boosters
Facing mounting pressure to bring industrial competition to a congressionally mandated heavy-lift rocket development program, NASA has tentatively selected a vehicle design featuring solid-fueled, side-mounted boosters that eventually could be replaced with liquid-fueled engines, according to U.S. industry and congressional sources.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has approved a design for the Space Launch System (SLS) whose core and upper stages would utilize space shuttle- and Apollo-heritage propulsion systems, respectively, these sources said. For the side-mounted boosters, NASA would continue development of shuttle-derived solid-rocket motors while initiating work on a brand new engine likely fueled by liquid kerosene, sources said.
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17 June 2011
SpaceX Sues Expert Who Questioned Safety of Falcon 9 Rocket
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) is suing Herndon, Va.-based Valador Inc. and its vice president, Joe Fragola, for making what SpaceX says were defamatory allegations about the safety and reliability of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
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17 June 2011
Countering Contamination for Mars Spacesuits
Tiny fluorescent tracers stood in for microbes during mock Mars missions with spacesuit simulators in the San Rafael desert of Utah. Simply shining a laser pointer on the spacesuits allowed the researchers to detect levels of contamination based on the fluorescent response.
Such tests may help ensure that contamination risks do not "endanger the entire science of searching for life on Mars," according to Gernot Groemer, president of the Austrian Space Forum and lead researcher on the contamination experiments.
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17 June 2011
Poland will become the 20th member of ESA
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16 June 2011
Boeing Completes Delta System Definition Review of Crew Space Transportation Design
Boeing on May 19 completed the Delta System Definition Review (SDR) of the company's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 space capsule design. The milestone follows NASA's award of a Commercial Crew Development Phase 2 (CCDev2) contract to Boeing in April.
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15 June 2011
ESA Controllers Buy Time To Address Glitches on Comet Chaser
European Space Agency (ESA) officials said June 15 that their $1.4 billion Rosetta comet-chaser spacecraft has been put into a slow spin and switched off for a 2.5-year hibernation period that they hope will give them enough time to overcome attitude-control and propulsion system problems.
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15 June 2011
Shuttle program's end leaves pension bill
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14 June 2011
Entry, descent and surface science for 2016 Mars mission
Boeing on May 19 completed the Delta System Definition Review (SDR) of the company's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 space capsule design. The milestone follows NASA's award of a Commercial Crew Development Phase 2 (CCDev2) contract to Boeing in April.
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14 June 2011
SpaceX Secures Launch Contract In Major Asian Market
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14 June 2011
Commercial Rocket Engine Test Firing Experiences Early Shutdown
An Aerojet AJ26 flight engine for Orbital Sciences Corporations' Taurus II space launch vehicle experienced a premature shutdown during a test firing on June 9.
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14 June 2011
Memo Marks Official End of Constellation
A senior NASA official has signed the formal death warrant for the Constellation deep space exploration program even as work proceeds on one of Constellation’s legacy development efforts and agency officials continue to ponder the fate of another.
“I have signed the letter to close out the Constellation Program,” Douglas Cooke, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, wrote in a June 10 memo.
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10 June 2011
Students Build Space Habitats at NASA's Johnson Space Center
University students are helping NASA develop potential habitats for future space missions. Three teams from across the country will visit NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston during June to show off the inflatable space lofts they've designed and built for the inaugural eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge.
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10 June 2011
China's second moon orbiter Chang'e-2 goes to outer space
China's second moon orbiter Chang'e-2 on Thursday set off from its moon orbit for outer space about 1.5 million km away from the earth, Chinese scientists said Thursday. The orbiter left its moon orbit at 5:10 p.m. and it will take about 85 days for the orbiter to reach outer space, according to the State Administration of Science,Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND).
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10 June 2011
NASA Inspector General Report into the Management of MSL Project
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08 June 2011
Mars Science Lab Needs $44M More To Fly, NASA Audit Finds
NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) needs a last-minute cash infusion of $44 million to make sure it gets off the ground by the end of the year, according to an internal agency watchdog.
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08 June 2011
NASA Spending Shift to Benefit Centers Focused on Science and Technology
Euroconsult along with the consulting firm Omnis have announced the findings of a study foreseeing a significant shift in NASA spending toward Earth science and R and D programs and away from legacy spaceflight activities.
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07 June 2011
NASA releases first photo of shuttle docked in space
NASA on Tuesday released the first ever pictures of a US space shuttle docked at the International Space Station, taken by astronauts aboard a departing Russian spacecraft last month.
The shots of the shuttle Endeavour were taken by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli as he and two colleagues left the orbiting lab on May 23 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft bound for Earth.
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FOR FURTHER READING
20 June 2011
It’s not (just) about the starship
A 100-year project to develop the technology needed for a crewed interstellar spacecraft is a sure way to attract attention, especially when it’s backed with even a small amount of funding from DARPA and NASA. Jeff Foust reports on how this long-term effort may really be just a nontraditional way to promote short-term research and development.
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20 June 2011
Prophets of science fiction
As the Space Shuttle program winds down, we’re reminded that the shuttles failed to meet the cost and flight rate predictions made during the program’s development in the 1970s. Dwayne Day notes that even during the ’70s some were skeptical of those claims.
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20 June 2011
When the skies fall: hostile aliens invade the small screen
The concept of alien invasions of Earth has reappeared on television recently in the form of a National Geographic special and a TNT drama. Andre Bormanis examines those shows and why the alien invasion theme may be in vogue today.
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